• Deeper dive: A closer look at 'Sweat'

    by John Moore | Apr 09, 2018

    In the video above, playwright Lynn Nottage and Broadway director Kate Whoriskey talk about connecting to the human experience with 'Sweat.'


    Note: In this daily series, we have been taking a deeper dive into the eight titles recently announced on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2018-19 season. Today we finish with Sweat

    Sweat

    • Written by: Lynn Nottage
    • Year: 2015
    • Director: Nataki Garrett
    • Dates: April 26-May 26, 2019 (Opens May 3)
    • Where: Space Theatre
    • Genre: Drama
    • Ruined. Photo by Terry Shapiro. About the author: Nottage is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter from Brooklyn. In a national survey conducted by the DCPA NewsCenter following the 2017 death of Edward Albee, Nottage placed third as the leading, living voice in American playwriting, behind only Tony Kushner and Sam Shepard (who has since passed away). "Lynn Nottage, like August Wilson before her, spotlights the marginalized without sentiment, sensationalism or a victim mentality," The Denver Post wrote in 2011. Sweat won the Pulitzer, an Obie Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and was nominated for a Tony Award. Ruined, which also won a Pulitzer, is set amid civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, based on the playwright's interviews with Congolese women, exposing largely unknown radical and violent injustice that happening in Africa. That made for one of the most remarkable productions in DCPA Theatre Company history in 2011. Nottage's Intimate Apparel has been presented at the Arvada Center and, just last month, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Nottage is currently an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory. (Pictured above: Kim Staunton in the DCPA's 'Ruined.' Photo by Terry Shapiro.)
    • lynn-nottage QUOTEThe play at a glance: For the people of poverty-stricken Reading, Pa., work is  much more than a paycheck – it’s the glue that has held the town together for generations. The floor of their central factory is where lifelong friendships are made, where love blossoms and where family members work side-by-side. But as layoffs become the new norm and a cheaper workforce threatens the viability of the local union, the threads that once kept the community together begin to fray. Using warm humor and deep empathy, Nottage paints a moving portrait of today’s working-class America in decline.
    • Says the playwright: "I very much wanted the play to be a conversation starter. I feel my role as an artist isn't to come up with solutions but to ask the right questions at the right moment.”
    • Says new DCPA Artistic Director Chris Coleman: "One of the things I love the most about Lynn Nottage is the way she takes an idea and makes it human. Lynn is a significant voice in the American theatre, and I’m thrilled we get to experience her work again. We’re also incredibly lucky to have a powerhouse director like Nataki Garrett at the helm of this important drama, and I look forward to taking the questions this play asks and diving deeper into conversations with the Denver community.”

    The N.Y. Times article that inspired Nottage to write Sweat

    • The author's influence: Nottage began working on the play in 2011 by interviewing residents of Reading, which at the time was, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, officially one of the poorest cities in America, with a poverty rate of 41 percent. Nottage was particularly influenced by a New York Times article reporting on that city. "Reading is a city that’s sort of hopelessly fractured along racial and economic lines," Nottage told the Village Voice. "When you’re there, you feel it."
    • What the critics have said about Sweat: The New York Times called Sweat "an extraordinarily moving drama that powerfully contrasts life’s happiest highs with the heart-wrenching struggles of survival." The play's characters have  been described as the same kind of disenfranchised blue-collar workers who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Michael Schulman of The New Yorker called Sweat "the first theatrical landmark of the Trump Era —  a tough yet empathetic portrait of the America that came undone." He also said Nottage's play "harks back to the working-class naturalism of Clifford Odets." Wrote Jeremy Gerard of Deadline: “No play in recent memory has shed more light on the crises and tribulations of America’s great retrenched working middle class than Sweat."
    • Notes on the play: Sweat was first performed by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015. It moved to to Broadway after a sold out off-Broadway run at The Public Theater. The Broadway cast included Carlo AlbanLydia5, who made an indelible turn in the DCPA Theatre Company's Lydia in 2008 (pictured right. ... The action takes place in a fictional bar. The story tells of two meetings: One between a parole officer and two ex-convictl the other three women who were childhood friends working in the same factory. Switching scenes from the present with eight years before, Nottage shows how events take these characters on divergent pathways ... Lower education generally means higher poverty.  Just 8 percent of Reading residents have a bachelor’s degree. The national average is 28 percent.

    TC-web-Season-Ann-800x3004
    Artwork by DCPA Senior Graphic Designer Kyle Malone.

    2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

  • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre) READ MORE

  • DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions:
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season: In with the old ... and the new

    by John Moore | Apr 01, 2018

    Video overview of the 2018-19 season.


    Coleman's 40th anniversary season includes two world premieres, Tolstoy and an African-American Oklahoma!

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Incoming DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman today announced a 40th anniversary season he believes both honors the company’s past and boldly steps into the future — and in some intriguing examples, at the same time.

    Coleman will return to the company’s roots by presenting its third Rodgers and Hammerstein musical following previous stagings of Carousel and South Pacific. But Coleman is promising a fresh new look at Oklahoma! by telling the beloved story of a spirited rivalry between local farmers and cowboys from a mostly African-American perspective. Similarly, Coleman will offer adaptations of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and W. Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife, stories of women overcoming great societal barriers that may strike audiences as remarkably contemporary.

    A Last Night 800 1“It’s incredibly exciting to imagine what you want your first season at an organization to be,” said Coleman, who assumes his full-time Denver duties in May. "This company has long been known as a place where you can do really big, interesting, meaty, dramatic literature. One of the things that's exciting to me is to do something really traditional and then follow that with something that is brand new and edgy. That collision of styles and voices is really juicy to me.”

    Pictured above: Valerie Curtis-Newton, left, will return to again direct 2017 Colorado New Play Summit offering 'Last Night and the Night Before' on the mainstage season. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Coleman covers the traditional-to-edgy gamut with the announcement of both an eight-play Theatre Company season that includes three classics and two world premieres, as well as an innovative five-play slate from the company's adventurous Off-Center wing.  

    nataki-garrettWhen Coleman was named Artistic Director in November, he promised programming that will further the DCPA’s efforts to diversify its audiences, champion local storytelling and give voice to underserved communities. All five of the other mainstage directors he named today are women — and three of the playwrights are women or persons of color. Four if you count Off-Center's commission of a planned immersive hip-hop piece from This is Modern Art co-writer Idris Goodwin.
      

    The mainstage season includes two world-premiere plays: Donnetta Lavinia GraysLast Night and the Night Before, which was featured at the company’s 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, and Itamar MosesThe Whistleblower. With the exception of A Christmas Carol, which returns for a 26th year, every playwright and source writer (even Tolstoy) will be new to Theatre Company audiences except Nottage, whose Ruined was one of the most celebrated productions in company history In 2011.

    The Off-Center offerings, said Curator Charlie Miller, will complement the Theatre Company season and tell exciting stories in unconventional ways. “From original micro plays to new theatrical experiments to a large-scale immersive hip-hop show, Off-Center will take audiences into unexpected Denver spaces and showcase local artists, stories, and communities,” he said.

    Starting Monday: A daily, deeper dive into 2018-19 season

    The Theatre Company debuted on New Year’s Eve 1979 with The Caucasian Chalk Circle, starring Tyne Daly. Coleman says there is special significance to this being the 40th anniversary season because the company is old enough to have built an significant canon but also young enough to still have staff, artists and audience members who have been here all along — a lot of them.

    "As we step into the next chapter of the Theatre Company’s history, it's inspiring and energizing to look back on the extraordinary body of work that this company has brought to the region over the last 40 seasons," Coleman said. "What's really vivid to me is how many people have been around from Day 1. There are so many people who are really invested in the history and the future of this organization. So, to me, that's worth celebrating. And I view that as a launching pad for me.

    These playwrights and directors are the cream of the crop, and I look forward to the conversations these works will open up with the Denver community."

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Meet new Theatre Company Artistc Director Chris Coleman


    Chris Coleman 2018-19 season announcement


    2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

    • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre)
    • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre)
    • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre)
    • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre)
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre)
    • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre)
    • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre)
    • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre)

    DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions: New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

    2018-19 Off-Center season at a glance:

    • July 11-Aug. 22: Mixed Taste: Tag team lectures on unrelated topics (Wednesdays only, with MCA Denver, Seawell Ballroom)
    • Oct. 23-Nov. 18: Bite-Size: An evening of micro theatre (at BookBar)
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries (with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at The Jones)
    • March 2019: Powered by Off-Center (The Jones)
    • Dates TBA: Untitled Immersive Hip-Hop Show

    Off-Center ticket information: The single ticket on-sale date for all Off-Center productions will be announced at a later time. Subscriptions are not available for Off-Center shows.


    2018-19 THEATRE COMPANY SEASON: Title by title

    (Descriptions provided by DCPA Theatre Company)

    Vietgone

    • Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2016 VietgoneBy Qui Nguyen
    • Original music by Shane Rettig
    • Directed by Seema Sueko
    • Aug. 24-Sept. 30, 2018 (Opens Aug. 31)
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • Glance: This rap-spitting, pop culture-crusted dramedy is an ode to the real-life courtship of Playwright Qui Nguyen’s parents. Forced to leave their country during the height of the Vietnam War, two refugees find themselves at the same relocation camp in Arkansas – the land of Harleys, hot dogs and “howdy!” Before they find their way into each other’s arms, they’ll have to blaze a trail in their weird new world and leave behind the baggage they didn’t pack. Jump on this emotional ride for an adventure that hums with excitement as it hops across time and around the globe through the highs and lows of love.
    • Fun fact: Qui Nguyen is the self-described geeky playwright behind She Kills Monsters, which addressed stereotypes and social issues through the game “Dungeons and Dragons.”

    (Pictured: Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2016 production of 'Vietgone,' courtesy Oregon Shakespeare Festival.)

    Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    • Oklahoma!Music by Richard Rodgers; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs
    • Original Dances by Agnes de Mille
    • Directed by Chris Coleman
    • Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 2018 (Opens Sept. 14)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: With a spring in their step and a song in their hearts, cowboys, farmers and travelling salesmen alike have chased their destinies to a land that promises everything they could hope for: love, opportunity and a brighter future. The first collaboration by the legendary team of Rodgers and Hammerstein became a landmark musical for its rollicking music and stunning dance numbers, and this joyful presentation will solidify why it has stood the test of time. New DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman makes his DCPA directorial debut with this production, and he will set the story in one of the 50 all-African-American towns in the early days of the Oklahoma Territory. Discover an overlooked piece of American history as one small community stakes its claim on a place full of hope. The choreographer will be Dominique Kelley, a dancer in the film La La Land and the musical Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk.
    • Fun fact: Oklahoma! opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre 75 years ago Saturday, and the cast of the Denver-born Frozen marked the anniversary with a curtain-call singalong that you can watch at this YouTube link.

    The Constant Wife

    • The Constant WifeBy W. Somerset Maugham
    • Directed by Shelley Butler
    • Sept. 21-Oct. 21, 2018 (Opens Sept. 28)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: As the intelligent, charming housewife of a successful doctor, Constance Middleton cheerfully plays her traditional role. But she knows far more than she’s willing to let on. This cheeky satire pokes holes in the expectations of relationships, fidelity and social roles that were just as relevant in the 1920s as they are today. Featuring an infectiously plucky heroine at the helm, The Constant Wife takes joy in the imperfections of life and applauds those who elude the strict confines of society to discover true happiness. DCPA alum Shelley Butler (Human Error, The Most Deserving) returns to direct this contagious comedy.Fun fact: Variety calls Maugham’s protagonist “a perverse protofeminist — and an antecedent to the women of “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City.”

    A Christmas Carol

    • Sam Gregory A Christmas Carol. By Charles Dickens
    • Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    • Music by David de Berry
    • Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    • Nov. 21-Dec. 24, 2018 (Opens Nov. 29)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, the Theatre Company’s joyous and opulent seasonal offering now in its 26th year traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Note: This is an added attraction, not part of the Theatre Company subscription season.
    • Fun fact: Denver favorite Sam Gregory is scheduled to return for a third time as Scrooge.

    Last Night and the Night Before (world premiere)

    • Summit. Last Night. Donnetta By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
    • Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019 (Opens January 25)
    • Ricketson Theatre
    • Glance: When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it shakes up Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble and brings their family’s Southern roots with her, grabbing hold of Rachel’s life more ferociously than she could have ever imagined. Poetic, powerful and remarkably funny, Last Night and the Night Before play explores the struggle between the responsibilities that are expected of us and the choices we actually end up making.
    • Fun fact: This play was featured in the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Its original title was simply, Sam. The new title references a line from the children’s game "Last night and the night before, I met my baby at the candy store."


    Anna Karenina

    • TC-web-Season-Ann-400x3003By Kevin McKeon, adapted from the novel by Leo Tolstoy
    • Directed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman
    • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019 (Opens Feb. 1)
    • Stage Theatre
    • Glance: Love holds the power to bind us together or tear us apart, and no one knows better than Countess Anna Karenina. As a noblewoman and socialite, her glamorous lifestyle shrouds her unhappy marriage. But everything changes when she meets the dashing army officer Count Vronsky. She risks her social status, marriage, friends and family for the thrill of forbidden love. Anna Karenina uses the romantic backdrop of Tsarist Russia to tell a turbulent tale of passion and betrayal, dreams chased and lost, and the consequences of getting swept off your feet. Helmed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman, this lush, modern adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece brings the opulent setting and heart-wrenching story to life.
    • Fun fact: The play was made into a 2012 movie adapted by Tom Stoppard and featuring Keira Knightley and Jude Law.


    The Whistleblower (world premiere)

    • itamarmoses whistleblowerBy Itamar Moses (pictured right)
    • Directed by TBA
    • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019 (Opens Feb. 15)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: For screenwriter Eli, an offer to finally create his own TV show should be the ultimate culmination of his goals, but instead shocks him into wondering why he had those dreams in the first place. Armed with a new sense of spiritual clarity, he sets out on a quest to serve up some hard truths to his coworkers, family, exes and friends. What could possibly go wrong? A lively world premiere about the lies we tell to protect ourselves  and how the tiniest gestures can have deep impact on those around us. Written by Itamar Moses, the award-winning author of the musical The Band’s Visit, currently on Broadway.
    • Fun facts: The Whistleblower was first introduced as a staged reading at South Coast Repertory’s 2015 Pacific Playwrights Festival in Costa Mesa, Calif. — alongside Vietgone. Also, Moses was an Executive Story Editor for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."

    Sweat

    • TC-web-Season-Ann-400x3004By Lynn Nottage
    • Directed by Nataki Garrett
    • April 26-May 26, 2019 (Opens May 3)
    • Space Theatre
    • Glance: For the people of poverty-stricken Reading, Pa., work is so much more than a paycheck – it’s the glue that holds the town together. The floor of their central factory is where lifelong friendships are made, where love blossoms and where family members work side-by-side. But as layoffs become the new norm and a cheaper workforce threatens the viability of the local union, the threads that once kept the community together begin to fray. Sweat is an “extraordinarily moving drama,” said The New York Times, that powerfully contrasts life’s happiest highs with the heart-wrenching struggles of survival. Using warm humor and deep empathy, this 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner from Lynn Nottage (Ruined) paints a moving portrait of today’s working-class America in decline.
    • Fun fact: Nottage developed her play through interviews with actual former steelworkers in Reading.

    2018-19 OFF-CENTER SEASON: Title by title

    Mixed Taste: Tag team lectures on unrelated topics

    • Mixed Taste Aug 9Co-presentation with MCA Denver
    • July 11-Aug. 22, 2018 (Wednesdays only)
    • Seawell Ballroom
    • Glance: Returning for a second summer series, even mismatched subjects find common ground in this fun lecture forum that can go pretty much anywhere. Two speakers get 20 minutes each to enlighten you on unrelated topics, but can’t make any connections to each other. Ideas start to blend afterward, when audience members ask questions to both speakers and anything goes.
    • Fun fact: One clever example from last year’s series: “Wild West mail delivery and post-conceptual art.” Last year’s series emcee Suzi Q. Smith wrote a poem during each performance and read them at the end of every evening.
     

    Bite-Size: An evening of micro theatre

    • 2017 TRUE WEST AWARDS Gary Grundie Meridith C. GrundeiCreated and directed by Meridith Crosley Grundei
    • Oct. 23-Nov. 18, 2018
    • At BookBar, 4280 Tennyson St.
    • Glance:
    • Bite-Size brings you five short plays with bookish twists performed in and around BookBar, an independent bookstore and wine bar in the Tennyson Street Arts District. Grab tapas and drinks between the short performances of original works by Colorado-based artists. There is no better way to see a variety of local playwrights and performers in one place. Whether you’re a theatre geek, a bookworm or on the hunt for an off-beat night out, this evening will leave you eager to crack into a fresh hard-cover and dream up some tales of your own.
    • Fun fact: Director Meridith Grundei, a 2017 True West Award winner, packed up a used R.V. and hit the road with her husband and daughter in 2017 to travel the United States and Mexico for a year.


    The SantaLand Diaries

    • A Santaland Diaries Michael BouchardCo-presentation with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • By David Sedaris, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    • Directed by Stephen Weitz
    • Nov. 23-Dec. 24, 2018 (Opens Nov. 25)
    • The Jones Theatre
    • Glance: This acclaimed one-man show is based on David Sedaris’ best-selling memoir about his curmudgeonly experience working as a Macy’s SantaLand elf, once again featuring Michael Bouchard and Luke Sorge as David, and his devilish Macy’s persona, Crumpet the Elf. Think holiday shopping is brutal? Try being on the receiving end of Macy’s SantaLand madness in a pair of pointy shoes. This twisted tale is the cure for the common Christmas show and the perfect excuse to take a break from it all.
    • Fun fact: 2018-19 will mark the 10th anniversary of BETC’s annual holiday staging, the last seven in partnership with Off-Center. That will equal The Bug Theatre’s run of 10 seasonal The SantaLand Diaries starring Gary Culig.

    Powered by Off-Center

    • March 2019
    • The Jones Theatre
    • Glance: Discover your next favorite Colorado performer as they debut new work at the Denver Center. Off-Center is offering the spotlight to local creators of all kinds as they get their projects off the ground with the support of our team. We’re giving our local artistic community a new place to play and a platform to experiment, engage and excite us all. Performance dates and participating artists to be announced.

    Untitled Immersive Hip-Hop Show

    • Idris Goodwin 160Written by Idris Goodwin
    • Directed by Jenny Koons
    • Glance: Following the hit experiential shows Sweet & Lucky and The Wild Party, Off-Center is cooking up its next large-scale immersive adventure. Off-Center has commissioned playwright Idris Goodwin and New York-based director Jenny Koons (Burn All Night at American Repertory Theatre) to create a one-of-a-kind new hip-hop-inspired event. Title, location, dates, and details to be announced.
    • Fun fact: Goodwin is the director and co-writer of This is Modern Art, currently playing through April 15 in The Jones Theatre.

    Note: Due to the nature of live performance, all productions, prices and dates are subject to change.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • February openings: 'Hamilton,' a Summit and a new $60 million jewel for Colorado Springs

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2018
    February Arvada Center Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography

    Jessica Robblee and Abner Genece in the Arvada Center's magical realism play 'The Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography 2018.


    R-E-S-P-E-CT, Colorado theatre: You have provided 82 theatregoing options in the shortest month of the year

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Hamilton.

    OK, there is a lot more than that going on in local theatre in February. At the Denver Center alone (in addition to that eagerly awaited national touring production) there will be three consecutive world-premiere plays: Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap that will be the cornerstone of the upcoming Colorado New Play Summit that was just named among the top 20 theatre festivals in the world. Also: STOMP's eighth Denver visit, and the musical comedy First Date continues at the Galleria Theatre. (Go to denvercenter.org for info on all of them.)

    And then there is ... the rest of the state. Now try to keep up ... but we warn you, it won't be easy — because the shortest month of the year may be presenting the most theatre offerings of any month ... ever. We're talking 34 openings and a whopping 83 theatregoing options overall, counting a huge number of special events. In 28 days.

    Here are just a few highlights outside the Denver Performing Arts Complex, followed by a comprehensive list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for February:

    Ten intriguing titles for February:

    NUMBER 1Oklahoma! All eyes will be on Colorado Springs this month for the opening of the jaw-dropping $60 million Ent Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. The new home of the venerable TheatreWorks and several other performing groups is a 92,000-square-foot building with multiple performance and gallery spaces. It officially launches with TheatreWorks' presentation of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in a sparkling new theatre with a familiar name to TheatreWorks audiences: The Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater. Feb. 15-March 11 at 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org.

    NUMBER 2Respect: A Musical Journey of Women. Cherry Creek Theatre's musical tribute to women is being billed as the company's show of support for the #MeToo Movement. It's an all-female production: Directors, cast, crew and playwright. That's Dorothy Marcic, who will be in attendance for both the evening performance on Saturday, Feb. 3, and the matinee on Sunday, Feb. 4. The show is co-directed and choreographed by longtime Denver Center favorite Shannan Steele with a cast that includes big-shots Sharon Kay White, Rachel Turner, Sarah Rex, Anna High and co-director Traci Kern. The Top-40 score includes "I Will Survive," "These Boots are Made for Walking," "What's Love Got to Do with it" and many more. NOTE: No Friday performances — and evening shows start at 7 p.m. Feb. 1-25 at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    NUMBER 3Intimate Apparel. The newly merged Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College brings revered playwright Lynn Nottage's breakout work to southern Colorado for the first time. Nottage, who later won Pulitzer Prizes for Ruined and Sweat, here tells an intensely personal story that weaves the joys and sorrows of an African-American seamstress in 1905 New York City. Feb. 8-25 at 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    NUMBER 4Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors. Rhonda Jackson's new  play, presented by The Source Theatre Company (which has grown up in the shadow of the former Shadow Theatre Company) is an attempt to document what it's like to live with a chronic autoimmune disease such as  lupus. For mature audiences. Feb. 8-17 at Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    NUMBER 5 The Electric Baby. The Arvada Center's second full repertory season kicks into full gear with Stefanie Zadravec's adult folktale about six strangers whose lives collide after a tragic car accident, forcing them to confront their secrets, hopes and fears. At the play’s center is a mysterious baby who glows like the moon. The play, directed by Rick Barbour of the University of Denver, combines magic, myth and humor to explore devastating loss and hopeful healing. Running Feb. 9-May 4 and in repertory with Sense and Sensibility and All My Sons (opening March 2) at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 6Waiting for the Parade William A. CottonWaiting for the Parade. Playwright John Murrell's 1977 fact-based drama introduces five very different women who find a way to survive by working together and accepting one another’s differences during the depths of World War II in 1940s Calgary. It's based on interviews with wartime survivors. Co-directed by Ami Dayan and Lou Ann Wright. Feb. 3-March 4 at the Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org (Photo by William A. Cotton)

    NUMBER 7JANE/EYRE. Denver, meet the Grapefruit Lab, a new performance company that debuts with a queer adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel with live original music by Teacup Gorilla and Dameon Merkl (of the Denver band Bad Luck City). Adapted by author, musician and True West Award winner Miriam Suzanne, along with former LIDA Project director Julie Rada. Their  hybrid play/concert takes a dark and often humorous look at early feminism — bringing a contemporary, queer perspective to Jane’s story. Feb. 23-March 3 at The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    NUMBER 8Wisdom from Everything. The latest provocative offering from Boulder's Local Theater Company asks: What you would sacrifice to escape a war? Chicago playwright Mia McCullough's story presents a 19-year-old Syrian who finds herself educating girls in the largest refugee camp in the world — until an older Jordanian doctor offers her an education in exchange for marriage. The primo cast includes  Amy Carle (known for her work on "Chicago MED" and for the Goodman and Steppenwolf theatres) and Mehry Eslaminia, who performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere play Appoggiatura. Feb. 28-March 26 at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    Fun Home is finding a home on stages all over Colorado

    NUMBER 9The Book Handlers. Buntport Theater's newest original creation in its 17th season of original creations is a world-premiere comedy about a handy service that will make your books look read, even though they haven't been. Because, you know ... who reads anymore? This fun satire is inspired by a short story written by Brian O'Nolan. Feb. 23-March 17 at 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    NUMBER 10A Kid Like Jake. Benchmark Theatre moves into its permanent new home at the former Edge Theatre with Daniel Pearle’s 2013 play that explores the conflict that grows between a married couple when it becomes plain their 4-year-old prefers Cinderella to GI Joe. Directed by Warren Sherrill. The Lakewood theatre has been renamed The Bench at 40W. Feb. 16-March 25 at 1560 Teller St., benchmarktheatre.com

    DCPA February listings
    Photo of 'American Mariachi' by Adams Viscom.

     

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    Feb. 1-25: Cherry Creek Theatre's Respect: A Musical Journey of Women
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    Feb. 1-4: UpstART's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    604 Clinton St., Ridgway, 81432, 970-325-3501or http://www.upstartmoves.org

    Feb. 2-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s American Mariachi
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 2-March 11: Vintage Theatre's Sleuth (with Lowry's Spotlight Theatre)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Feb. 2-17: Longmont Theatre Company's Steel Magnolias
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Seussical Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018Feb. 2-May 25: Arvada Center Children's Theatre's Seussical
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    (Pictured at right: Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018)

    Feb. 3-March 4: Bas Bleu Theatre's Waiting for the Parade
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Feb. 3-March 3: Miners Alley Children's Theatre’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Feb. 8-25: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Intimate Apparel
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Feb. 8-17: The Source Theatre Company’s Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    Feb. 8-18: Millibo Art Theatre's Cake
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Feb. 9-March 18: DCPA Theatre Company’s The Great Leap
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 9-May 4: Arvada Center's The Electric Baby
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Feb. 9-25: 5280 Artists Co-op's Colorism
    At the Aurora Cultural Arts District Building, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-432-9162 or 5280ArtistCoop.com

    Feb. 9-11: National touring production of Shen Yun
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 888-316-4234 or shenyunperformingarts.org

    Feb. 9-Aug. 11: Iron Springs Chateau’s A Precious Bit of the West, or: She Was Simply a Delight!
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    Feb. 13-18: National touring production of STOMP
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 15-March 4, 2018: Springs Ensemble Theatre's The Totalitarians
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 80909, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Feb. 15-March 11: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Oklahoma
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 16-March 25: Benchmark Theatre's A Kid Like Jake
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, benchmarktheatre.com

    Feb. 16-24: Theatrix USA's Call Me Mrs. Evers
    At the Lakewood Cultural/Heritage Center, theatrixdenver.com




    Feb. 17-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Colorado New Play Summit
    Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 17-March 17: Firehouse Theatre's Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com  

    Feb. 22-March 4: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Trouble in Tahiti
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 22-March 10: Thunder River Theatre Company's The Price
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Feb. 22-April 8: The BiTSY Stage’s Jotunheim: A Legend of Thor and His Hammer
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Feb. 23-March 17: Buntport Theater's The Book Handlers
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Feb. 23-March 25: Town Hall Arts Center's Something’s Afoot
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Feb. 23-March 18: Aurora Fox's Real Women Have Curves
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Feb. 23-April 15: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Kiss Me Kate
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Feb. 23-March 10: Coal Creek Theater of Louisville’s Becky Shaw
    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Feb. 23-March 3: Grapefruit Lab's JANE/EYRE
    The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    Company Evergreen Chorale Feb. 23-March 11: Evergreen Chorale's Company
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4002 or evergreenchorale.org

    Feb. 27-April 1: National touring production of Hamilton
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 28-March 26: Local Theater Company's Wisdom from Everything
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Feb. 3: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's Rumors
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Feb. 3: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Bigot
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    Through Feb. 4: Town Hall Arts Center's Peter and the Starcatcher
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Through Feb. 4: Theatrix USA's Kiss
    At Dobrin Studios, 931 Santa Fe Drive, theatrixdenver.com

    Through Feb. 10: Aurora Fox's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Through Feb 11: Inspire Creative's The Little Mermaid
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    Through Feb. 11: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Building the Wall
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne,  970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Through Feb. 11: StageDoor Theatre's The 39 Steps
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Through Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 17: OpenStage Theatre Company's The Crucible
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Equinox Theatre Company's Evil Dead: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Through Feb. 18: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Guards at the Taj
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Through Feb. 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 18: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com (Sundays only)

    Through Feb. 24: Curious Theatre's Detroit 67
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org READ MORE

    Through Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Feb. 24: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    SophieDotsonAbigaleKochevarandSusannahMcLeod Fun Home. Photo by Sarah Roshan.Through March 4: Miners Alley Playhouse's Fun Home
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com READ MORE

    (Pictured: Susannah McLeod, Sophie Dotson and Abigail Kochevar. Photo by Sarah Roshan.)

    Through March 17: Midtown Arts Center's Fun Home
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com READ MORE

    Through March 25: Midtown Arts Center's Always ... Patsy Cline
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through April 22: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 6: Arvada Center's Sense and Sensibility
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    Sharon KayAURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Feb. 16 and 18: True West Award-winning performer Sharon Kay White is the featured artist this month in the Aurora Fox's ongoing cabaret series in its studio theatre. In the shadow of Valentine’s Day, White weaves tales and music through a journey of love, loss, joy, heartbreak, relationships, realities and absurdities.

    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org


    BUG THEATRE
    • Feb. 15: The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month. This month's program will honor local actress Stacy Farrar, who was murdered along with her son by her husband last May.
    • Feb. 26: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month

    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info


    BUNTPORT THEATRE


    THE CATAMOUNTS
    • Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10-11: FEED: Love (an theatrical examination of the journey from our youthful ideals of love, to the more hard-won truths of adulthood — served with a four-course meal and live music by Wes Watkins, formerly of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. 7 p.m.
    At VOCO Studios, 3700 Franklin St., Denver. feedlove.brownpapertickets.com


    Leonard BernsteinCOLORADO COLLEGE
    • Feb. 22-24: Leonard Bernstein at 100, a three-day symposium examining the  composer, conductor and performer as one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century. Includes and interview with oldest daughter Jamie Bernstein and keynote address by a Bernstein scholar. Registration is limited to 450 attendees and is required by Feb. 15 to attend any events on the conference program.
    At Colorado College’s Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs


    DAIRY ARTS CENTER

    • Thursday, Feb. 8: Every discipline of the arts will be represented in a single evening at this fundraiser for the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder. With food stations, craft beverages, a live DJ and surprises. Performers include Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance with Spinphony, The work of Stacey Steers, Maya and Goddess Here Productions and comedian John "Hippieman" Novosad. 6 p.m.
    2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    DUMBANDDUMBER

    DENVER ACTORS FUND

    • Sunday, Feb. 18: Screening of the film Dumb and Dumber starring with live entertainment from Backstage Breckenridge Theatre's upcoming original party musical Totally Awesome '80s Ski Town USA. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7

    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    Bruce Montgomery 300EVERGREEN PLAYERS

    • Feb. 2 and 10: The Big B.M. (A one-man bio-comedy featuring Bruce Montgomery, pictured at right)

    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org


    MILLIBO ART THEATRE
    • Feb. 3-4: The Dinosaur Show (for kids)
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org


    THEATRE MADE IN BOULDER FESTIVAL
    • Continuing through Feb. 10: Staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from local artists. Featured production: How To Screw Up Your Life! by Ami Dayan
    • Feb. 4: Trans/Actions, by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan
    • Feb. 4: What Happens in the Dark, by Kristofer Buxton
    • Feb. 11: Rooted, by Joy Barber
    • Feb. 11: Laura and Ibsen, by Susan Flakes
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org


    THEATREWORKS

    • Saturday, Feb. 3: Grand opening of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ Ent Center for the Arts, including dedication ceremonies and performances throughout the building, including  the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, Theatreworks, UCCS Music Program and UCCS Theatre and Dance Program.
    Located off Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, uccs.edu/entgala


    PARKER ARTS

    • Saturday, Feb. 17: Comedy & Cocktails: Nancy Norton, an evening of stand-up comedy that marks the re-opening of the newly remodeled Schoolhouse Theater. 8 p.m.
    Schoolhouse Theater, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave.,, Parker, 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org


    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Sunday, Feb. 11: Love & Marriage, 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive,  303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month: “The Big Cat,” by Louise Erdrich, read by Timothy McCracken; “Madame Lazarus,” by Maile Meloy, read by Randy Moore; and “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” by Anne Patchett; read by Mare Trevathan

    VINTAGE THEATRE
    • Feb. 14: Same Time, Next Year (reading featuring Andrew and Kelly Uhlenhopp)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com
  • After Albee: America's 10 leading, living playwriting voices

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2017
    Tony Kushner. Steven Barclay Agency.
    Photo: Steven Barclay Agency.


    When Edward Albee died last year, USA Today and Time Magazine were just two major publications that referred to the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner as “America’s greatest living playwright.” Which begged the question: America now turns its lonely eyes to … whom?”

    That’s the wrong word, of course – “greatest.” Playwriting is not a competitive sport. Substitute the words “most important” or “most influential,” and you have the seeds for a subjective dialogue on those voices who now bear the opportunity – and the burden – to tell the stories that will help audiences make sense of these newly unstable and uncertain times.  Nataki Garrett Quote

    The DCPA NewsCenter posed the “After Albee” question to a swath of local and national playwrights and industry professionals, and it should surprise no one that they believe the leading, living voice in the American theatre today is Tony Kushner. Not  even close.

    But the Top 10 names the survey yielded is a welcome indication that “the status quo is shifting,” said Nataki Garrett, the DCPA’s incoming Associate Artistic Director. The list, which not long ago might have consisted of nearly all white men, is evenly divided between male and female playwrights - even at a time when studies suggest as few as 25 percent of the plays staged in America today are written by women.

    The Top 10 includes not only Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel, Sarah Ruhl and avant-garde off-Broadway pioneer María Irene Fornés, but they are all writers who have in their own ways abandoned old-school literalism in their storytelling.

    Read John Moore's 2005 interview with Edward Albee

    “This list lets us know we’ve entered the 21st century, but we still have much work to do,” Garrett said. “There is not a trans writer in the Top 10, and there are not enough people of color. There is a greater complexity of voices in the American theatre out there.”

    It is notable that while an equal number of male and female theatre professionals were invited to participate in this survey, more men than women actually responded. And yet, the Top 10 still yielded five women. The panel includes playwrights Robert Schenkkan, Caridad Svich and Jason Grote; American Theatre Magazine editor Rob Weinert-Kendt; Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg, and resigning Denver Center Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

    The response to Albee’s death last year seemed to acknowledge a storytelling void in his wake. "But I believe us to be in a Golden Age of American playwriting,” said Goldberg, who championed, among others, Annie Baker and the emerging, 32-year-old African-American Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon).

    How I learned to Drive. Curious TheatreThe Top 10 also acknowledged established names that have dominated the American playwriting landscape for the past five decades - a wide range of voices and tones that spans the bittersweet nostalgic comedy of Neil Simon to the gleeful cruelty of David Mamet, who inspired a generation of followers who have reveled in the worst in human behavior. On the other end of the spectrum is Vogel, best known for her deeply human examination of family incest in How I Learned to Drive, but whose legacy will include her influence as a playwriting professor who has unleashed the boundary-bending creative freedom in two generations of students.

    Read John Moore's 2011 interview with Tony Kushner

    Simon’s place on the list, while obvious and necessary, surprised even some of those whose votes put him there. “I went back and forth over a 24-hour period and was actually very surprised to land on Neil Simon at the top,” said Denver playwright Jeffrey Neuman (Exit Strategies.) “But when you look at the depth, scope and breadth of Simon's career, his plays have had enormous impact and an immeasurable reach. Simon's plays are a part of our cultural consciousness in a way that virtually no other American playwright can claim today.”

    Angels in America. Bas Bleu OpenstageMost of those who placed Kushner at the top of the list did so in acknowledgement of his epic, angry, six-hour masterpiece Angels in America. Written in two parts and now, shockingly, 25 years old, Angels in America “put gay men at the center of American politics, history and mythology at a time when they were marginalized by the culture at large and dying in waves,” wrote Isaac Butler and Dan Kois for slate.com.

    In a 2011 interview, Curious Theatre founder Chip Walton told me what Kushner does better than anyone else is make the personal the political, and the political the personal. “So rather than sitting in a theater and listening to an ideological argument, he tells this deeply human story that is intricately interwoven with the politics at play,” Walton said, referring to Kushner's Homebody/Kabul. Kushner has always embraced the role of the playwright in the political discourse. Even back in 2011, he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever read about a time in human history as dangerous as this.”

    In that interview, which preceded a public appearance in Colorado Springs, I asked Kushner to assess the importance of the playwright, and he looked to the inherent, ephemeral nature of theatre itself. “When a production is done, it’s gone forever,” he said. “You can take pictures of it. You can make a film of it. But it’s not the production. It’s not the same thing. And yes, you can describe it, and you can read hopefully good criticism about it. But the thing itself is gone, and the only thing that remains behind is the Bible. The play. It’s what begins and it’s what endures. It’s the only fixed thing – to the extent that it is fixed.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Stephanie Prugh, recently the dramaturg for the DCPA Theatre Company’s The Glass Menagerie, said Kushner belongs at the top of her list because of his ability to create beautiful and epic plays that capture how humans struggle with prejudice, fear, longing and an innate need for love and acceptance in such an intimate and personal way.

    Tony Kushner Quote“I think sometimes I walk into the theatre longing to be reminded of our collective humanness, especially during these tumultuous times," said Prugh. "Kushner's body of work is challenging us on the most important topics. He never avoids difficult conversations, and he's asking that we not only remember what we are capable of as individuals, but as a collective - defined by the humanness he actively puts on the stage.” 

    Curious Theatre announced last week it will stage Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures next year as part of its 20th anniversary season.

    Asked his own opinion on America’s leading playwriting voices, Kushner pointed to Suzan-Lori Parks, calling her Top Dog/Underdog “completely in the tradition of a play like Eugene O’Neill’s Long Days Journey Into Night."

    While this survey specifically sought “writers of plays,” it should be noted that several voters believe lyricists Stephen Sondheim and Lin-Manuel Miranda deserve their places on the list - “by a factor of 10 billion,” said playwright Michael Mitnick (Ed, Downloaded).

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist.


    THE TOP 10 AT A GLANCE:

    Tony Kushner

    NUMBER 1Born: New York
    Age: 60
    Best-known work: Angels in America
    Published plays: 30
    He said it: “We’re living in an age right now where there is a problem in general with serious dramatic criticism, which I think is largely gone and has been replaced by a lot of consumer advocacy-type writing. It’s a problem because theater, given how cash-starved it is, is more vulnerable to the effects of newspaper criticism than something like film. Theater really gets damaged when there is a paucity of good criticism around.”
    Comment: "To me, the title of 'greatest living American playwright' should go to an artist whose work combines structural daring with rhetorical heft. His or her plays should be aesthetically thrilling and intellectually stimulating in equal degree, and they should also be possessed of something mysterious - some pulse of life that we can feel without quite being able to name. Tony Kushner's plays [and musical books] epitomize all those qualities. His work can be savored purely for its aesthetics, yet for anyone trying to think big thoughts about America, it's also an indispensable companion. Plus, one always gets the sense of something bigger lurking just outside his scripts, waiting for us to grasp it. It's exhilarating." – Mark Blankenship, Theatre Development Fund

     


    Sam ShepardSam Shepard

    NUMBER 2Born: Fort Sheridan, Ill.
    Age: 73
    Best-known work: Buried Child
    Published plays: 62
    He said it: “The funny thing about having all this so-called success is that behind it is a certain horrible emptiness.”
    Comment: "Shepard’s dramatic world often takes on the struggles of manhood and is peopled with derelict, disappointed somnambulists: Unmoored souls who form a kind of tribe of the living dead, deracinated men trying to escape a sense of shame that they only vaguely understand. They recede from family, from society, and, through drink, from themselves.” John Lahr, The New Yorker (from his essay here)


    lynn nottageLynn Nottage
    NUMBER 3Born: Brooklyn
    Age: 52
    Best-known work: Ruined
    Published plays: 22
    She said it: "I always thought of my mother as a warrior woman, and I became interested in pursuing stories of women who invent lives in order to survive."
    Comment: “For 30 years, Lynn Nottage has written quality plays from an African-American perspective that are socially important and appeal to wide audiences. I would say she is the successor to August Wilson in that regard.” - DCPA Director of New Play Development Douglas Langworthy. Playwright Michael Mitnick calls Nottage “the inheritor of Paula Vogel and John Guare.”


    Suzan-Lori ParksSuzan-Lori Parks
    NUMBER 4Born: Fort Knox, Ky.
    Age: 53
    Best-known work: Top Dog/Underdog
    Published plays: 19
    She said it: “I don't care what anybody says. Stick to the spirit of the play and you're doing it right. It's about embracing the spirit of the text instead of noodling some idea about things.
    Comment: “As with Caryl Churchill, one doesn’t know what to expect next from her. She can be playful, serious, and theatrical all at the same time. She is bold. She has a lot of plays left to write and she has remained loyal to the theater.” Playwright Rogelio Martinez.
    And another: "Parks brilliantly and unapologetically revises history, revealing the ways in which the personal truly is political. Her plays are delightfully irreverent, keenly subversive, radiant, hilarious, heartbreaking and ultimately very, very important." Emily K. Harrison, founder, square product theatre company


    Neil SimonNeil Simon
    NUMBER 5Born: The Bronx, N.Y.
    Age: 89
    Best-known work: The Odd Couple
    Published plays: 34
    He said it: “All comedy is based on hostility.”
    Comment: “Neil Simon. Yeah, I said it. (Bleep) everyone who disagrees. Comedy is an art, and he is the most popular artist of his generation and beyond because his comedy is foundational and spot-on. Humans love it. Not snobby-smart humans. Humans. That is my statement.” Denver actor Michael Bouchard



    Paual_VogelPaula Vogel
    NUMBER 6Born: Washington, D.C.
    Age: 65
    Best-known work: How I Learned to Drive
    Published plays: 15
    She said it: “The theatre is now so afraid to face its social demons that we've given that responsibility over to film. But it will always be harder to deal with certain issues in the theatre. The live event - being watched by people as we watch - makes it seem all the more dangerous.”
    Comment: “The woman is a lot like her plays: Fun to listen to, tough, relentlessly friendly, and more than a little bit twisted. Paula also holds something back, as her plays do so brilliantly. An unreadable smile, a demon or two, a voice that cracks from pain and then recovers; enigmas, left for her audience to explore or not.” – Actor Mary Louise Parker (in an interview here)


    Sarah RuhlSarah Ruhl
    NUMBER 7Born: Wilmette, Ill.
    Age: 42
    Best-known work: The Clean House
    Published plays: 19
    She said it: “Theatre is, at its roots, some very brave people mutually consenting to a make-believe world, with nothing but language to rest on.”
    Comment: "Sarah Ruhl she knows that childhood shapes world events with a vengeance, even among the powerful. More, she is a deeply literary writer, and what this gentle literary pilferer peruses, she uses. She reads Shakespeare and re-dreams his romances; she reads Woolf and time travels with Orlando. She makes a play from the letters of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. – Todd London, Executive Director of the University of Washington's School of Drama (from his essay here)


     

    MariaIreneFornesMaría Irene Fornés
    NUMBER 8Born: Cuba
    Age: 86
    Best-known work: And What of the Night?
    Published plays: 45
    You should know: Fornés is a Cuban-American avant-garde playwright and director who was a leading figure of the Off-Off Broadway movement in the 1960s. Fornés' themes focused on poverty and feminism, and lesbian identity has been central to her art.
    Comment: “María Irene Fornés is a rough contemporary to Albee who created a new kind of visceral and feminist language for the stage, writing drama as if she'd just landed from another planet and was handed a few random pages of Ibsen and Chekhov.” – playwright Jason Grote, ‘1001’


     

    David MametDavid Mamet
    NUMBER 9Born: Chicago
    Age: 69
    Best-known work: Glengarry Glen Ross
    Published plays: 104
    He said it: “Nobody cares what you feel.”
    Comment: “The master provocateur is infuriatingly brilliant, having spent the majority of his career honing a peculiar, cruel adeptness for showing men and women at their most amoral and violent. His world is a vulgar wasteland devoid of ethics and compassion, but there is an undeniably rhythmic intoxication to his dialogue.” – DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore



    David Lindsay-AbaireDavid Lindsey-Abaire

    NUMBER 10Born: Boston
    Age: 47
    Best-known work: Rabbit Hole
    Published plays: 18
    He said it: “Look, writing Rabbit Hole came out of an interest in diversifying my portfolio, frankly.”
    Comment: “Rabbit Hole is the most perfect play I know of by a living playwright. It strikes the utmost balance between pathos and progress as it examines the relationships of all those left behind after the child's death.” – playwright Leslie C. Lewis



    PRAISE FOR OTHER AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHTS:
    (in alphabetical order)

    Lee Blessing
    “Lee Blessing is, in my opinion, the best-kept secret in American theatre. He has written more plays than Shakespeare and is produced all over the country. His plays are always about something. He has said, ‘The purpose of theater is to shake you up, not give you a warm glow. That's the job of the circus.’ His plays make me think, let me grow and develop as a human being.” - Director Christy Montour-Larson

    Stephen Adly Guirgis
    “I feel strongly that any ‘great’ American playwright should know how to capture the complex and vibrant voices of a diverse America. I fear that many great playwrights get overlooked because they don't consistently write stories from a cultural point of view that is shared by the theatre-patron majority. With Guirgis, I feel there's a vibrancy and cultural complexity to his work that captures America. And as an actor, I love the visceral tensions that fill the souls and words of his characters." - Regan Linton, Artistic Director and Acting Executive Director, Phamaly Theatre Company

    Arthur Kopit
    "He’s had a long career and written some incredible plays. What makes him special is you just don’t know what he’ll write next. Wings, Indians and Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad, are all classics. The Road to Nirvana has not been seen by enough people, but it’s funny and vicious as all hell. People forget that a lot of his plays are a response to the times he was living in when he wrote them." - ‘Blind Date’ Playwright Rogelio Martinez

    Tarell Alvin McCraney
    "I put Tarell on my list because he's doing something so new and different. He is telling important and intriguing stories for the African-American communities as well as the LGBTQ world. But he is still so young. I think, if he continues to be so prolific, he will be the greatest." - Josh Hartwell, Dramatists Guild

    Terrence McNally
    "My vote is for longevity, continuity, diversity of subject matter, openly addressing homosexuality and the AIDS crisis, working in both straight-play and musical genres, and general intelligence, wit and social criticism. But I vote for McNally especially for Master Class." - DCPA Literary Associate Chad Henry

    Lin-Manuel Miranda
    "Lin-Manuel Miranda is reinventing the American theatre in an unprecedented way. 'Greatest playwright since Shakespeare' is a bit premature, but I hope it ends up being true." - Steve Wilson, Mizel Arts and Cultural Center Executive Director 

    Stephen Sondheim
    “Time will accurately lump him with Mozart and Shakespeare. (And yet, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize.)" - Playwright Michael Mitnick

    And another: "Sondheim is, in fact, the greatest theatrical voice alive today." - Blind Date playwright Rogelio Martinez


    THE VOTING PANEL:

    • Mark Blankenship, Theatre Development Fund
    • Michael Bouchard, Denver actor and writer
    • Ben Dicke, Theatre Department Chair at The Chicago Academy for the Arts
    • Brian Freeland, New York writer and director
    • Wendy C. Goldberg, Artistic Director, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
    • Jason Grote, playwright
    • Emily K. Harrison, square product theatre company founder
    • Josh Hartwell, playwright, Dramatists Guild
    • Chad Henry, playwright, DCPA Literary Associate
    • Douglas Langworthy, DCPA Director of New Play Development
    • Leslie C. Lewis, playwright
    • Regan Linton, actor, Phamaly Theatre Company Artistic Director and Acting Executive Director
    • Ina Marlowe, director
    • Rogelio Martinez, playwright
    • Melissa Lucero McCarl, playwright
    • Timothy McCracken, actor, DCPA Education Head of acting
    • Charlie Miller, DCPA Associate Artistic Director for Strategy and Innovation
    • Michael Mitnick, playwright
    • Christy Montour-Larson, director
    • Jeffrey Neuman, playwright
    • Bev Newcomb, director
    • Stephanie Prugh, dramaturg
    • Robert Schenkkan, playwright
    • Howard Sherman, Director at Arts Integrity Initiative at the New School for Drama
    • Philip Sneed, Arvada Center Executive Director
    • Octavio Solis, playwright
    • Caridad Svich, playwright
    • Kent Thompson, DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director
    • Diep Tran, American Theatre Magazine
    • Allison Watrous, DCPA Director of Education
    • Rob Weinert-Kendt, Editor, American Theatre Magazine
    • Edith Weiss, actor, director, playwright
    • Rebecca Weitz, Managing Director, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Stephen Weitz, Producing Ensemble Director, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    • Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, playwright
    • Steve Wilson, Executive Director, Mizel Arts and Culture Center


    Selected previous coverage of the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit:
    Summit stands in thanks to departing founder Kent Thompson
    2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal
    Summit Spotlight: Robert Schenkkan on the dangers of denial
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide
    Summit Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays on the aftermath of trauma
    Summit Spotlight: Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America
    Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit
    DCPA completes field of five 2017 Summit playwrights

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.